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Bouncing a check on your account can be costly.  With so many ways to access your account – like checks, ATM cards, debit cards, and automatic bill paying – it’s easier than ever to lose track of your withdrawls. 

Click here to listen to "Avoiding Bounced Checks"Bounced checks happen when you write a check (or make any kind of withdrawl, such as your ATM or debit card) for more money than you have it your account.  When this happens, your bank has to decide to either pay the amount or not.  If the bank pays the amount they may charge you an overdraft fee.  If they decide not to pay the check because there are insufficient funds in your account, the check  will be returned to the individual or company that you wrote the check to.  This is what’s known as a “bounced check.”  Your bank may charge you a fee for bouncing your check.  The person or company you wrote the check to may also charge you a fee for having the check returned to them without payment.  In addition, they can resubmit the check to your bank for payment raising the possibility that it could bounce a second time if you still don’t have enough money to cover the check. This could result in more bounced check fees and more return charges.  So it’s definitely worth it to avoid bouncing checks!

The best way to avoid bouncing a check is to keep complete and accurate records on your bank accounts.  This means writing down all the transactions you make – checks, ATM withdrawls, debit card purchases, and automatic payments – in your checkbook.  Also remember to subtract any service fees, check charges, or fees for using ATMs at other banks.  Also, don’t trust the balance you may get from the ATM or even your bank. That balance may not include checks that you’ve written but haven’t cleared yet, so it may seem like you have more in your account than you actually do.

To make sure your checkbook is accurate, balance your checkbook every month when you receive your bank statement. It can take ten or twenty minutes to do, but it will help keep you out of financial trouble!  Many statements will have instructions on how to balance your account printed on the back of the statement, or you can ask at your bank.

If you repeatedly bounce checks, you can ask your bank about overdraft protection so your checks and payments will go through even when you don’t have enough money in your account to cover them.  It’s likely that you will have to pay a fee for these services, so be sure to ask how much it will cost.  The best way to avoid bounced check fees or overdraft charges, however, is to keep accurate records and hold on to your hard earned money!